Friday, December 22, 2006


Better? My joints ache. I'm dizzy when I walk -- real dizzy, like the rush you get when you're a kid and spin in circles for fun. My throat feels like it's on fire. And everytime I cough, it feels like I've got a vice around my ribs.

On the plus, my nose has dried up. Dak-Ho came by this afternoon and said, "Shower and get dressed." We went over to C.I.'s where we are now. There are guests staying in the area and there are guests staying over. The gang was worrying about leaving C.I. on Christmas but Elaine and I both told them not to. Ava called today and she'll probably come back Sunday. She has family on both coasts and that way she'll be able to celebrate with both plus, as she said, "I'm going crazy." I know what she means. When I was in Ireland, one of the weirdest things was not being able to talk to everyone. You forget how much that means. And like Ava, it's not just the gang for me. Like her, I couldn't imagine living in NY. No offense to New Yorkers.

It's just not my rhythm.

Let me note Betty's latest before I forget. She called C.I. and I was passed the phone. Betty thought I was too sick to even be read to. C.I. told her it was funny. I thought so as well. I think it's because it's a shorter chapter. But she wasn't expecting Thomas Friedman to still be in Texas and he made a bigger fool of himself than usual today (except when he sports his War Hawk feathers). Her latest chapter is "The Double-Wide Friedman." She also told me that Rebecca sent me warm wishes re: her site. Thank you for that, Rebecca. We'll talk tomorrow but I really have been knocked out with the cold/flu.

Betty spoke with Rebecca and said everything's going well which makes me very happy. This was the second of the three critical weeks for her. One more to go and then it's home free.

I feel awful because I've given both Sumner and C.I. my cold. And neither have the time to be sick. C.I. denies being sick but is swigging back cough syrup like Janis Joplin with a bottle of Southern Comfort.

I will note that Frank Rich, of the New York Times, gave students more credit than most today on KPFA's The Morning Show. That's probably because he's been out among them and not just riding a desk. I disagreed with him on other things but I'll give him credit for not playing the useless and unrealistic game of "Trash Kids Today."

Thank you to Sumner for typing my post for me last night. I truly did not leave the couch until this morning.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, December 22, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; American military fatalities in Iraq hit 2964 -- 36 shy of the 3,000 mark and Condi Rice is pleased with that figure and want to see it go higher, HIGHER, HIGHER; a US war resister will be released from the military brig tomorrow; Carolyn Marshall demonstrates you don't have to serve in the US administration to be useless; and a remedial walk-through for confused visitors from yesterday.

Starting with news of US war resister
Ricky Clousing. Joe Miller (Jacksonville's The Daily News) reports that Clousing "will be released from the Camp Lejeune brig on Saturday." As Bob Geary (Raleigh-Durham Indpendent Weekly) reported yesterday, there is a rally scheduled in Fayetteville (North Carolina) "midday Saturday to be greeted by human rights supporters at the Raleigh Friends Meeting House, 625 Tower St. (the street behind the Cameron Village Post Office). His reception is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., before he catches a flight from RDU back to his hometown of Seattle Wash." Once arriving in Seattle, as Courage to Resist notes, there will be a welcoming at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, 10:15 p.m. Saturday night -- "Concourse B., Baggage Claim 11."

Clousing self-checked out of the US military in June 2005 and,
on August 11, 2006, announced he would be turning himself in. Following an attempt at turning himself in at Fort Lewis, Clousing was told to go to Fort Bragg. On October 12th, Ricky Clousing was court-martialed and has been in the brig since then. Like Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Mark Wilkerson, and Agustin Aguayo, Clousin is a part of resistance within the military that includes Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month. Information on past and present war resistance can also be found in David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! which tells the story of war resistance during the Vietnam era and, in the new director's edition, also includes bonus material on Camilo Mejia's court-martial, interviews with Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda about today's war resistance, and more. The director's cut is availabe for $23.95 and the original version is currently available for $12.95.

Resistance within the military was the story of 2006 but too few were interested in reporting it or, let's face it, in reporting at all. Chatting on some charges, don't call it reporting,
Carolyn Marshall (New York Times) continued to flaunt ignorance today, as well as what may very well be xenophobia, as she chirped away about 8 US marines charged in the November 2005 Haditha slaughter without ever noting a reaction on the part of Iraqis -- even a previously reported reaction. (Marshall does have a co-writer. Her past bylines indicate she grabs all the blame for the latest.)

On today's
Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez rebroadcast an interview they did with Time magazine's Aparisim Ghosh about the Haditha massacre explaning (pay attention, Carolyn Marshall), "The more we dug, the more we thought something didn't quite add up." How so? The Iraqis "were killed in their homes, in their night clothes. The night clothes were significant because . . . women and children especially, are unlikely to go out in their night clothes, it is a very conservative society." "The victims," yes, Carolyn Marshall, Aparism Ghosh spoke with victims and eyewitnesses, "told us that the Marines came in and they killed everyone in sight." One young girl told of how the Marines killed everyone in her home except for her and her young brother. Click here for the full report from May 30th's Democracy Now! and we'll note what Dahr Jamail said in that discussion: "And the other really aspect of that, I think is important to note on this, is the media coverage, again, surrounding what has happened around Haditha simply because Time magazine covered it, and thank heavens that they did, but this has gotten so much media coverage, and in comparison, so many of these types of incidents are happening every single week in Iraq. And I think that's astounding and important for people to remember, as well."

If Carolyn Marshall needs futher examples of what real reporters do, she might also
check out Majid Hameed (Reuters) who spoke with people in Haditha today. Khaled Salman declares, "Those soldiers killed 24 people. They killed women and children, isn't that enough for them to be excuted? Just so that the family can have peace." Her sister was killed in the slaughter. Hameed also notes a local judge, Talal Saed, who states, "They should be tried in Iraq and under the Iraqi law. . . . This is a show trial just to show that the Americans are doing something to be fair with Iraqis but it's nothing more than that."

Equally oblivious is the US Secretary of State. Yes, Condi Rice continues to flaunt her loose grip on reality. Her failure as US National Security Advisor (remember, 9-11 was on her watch) trails her as US Secretary of State.
Mark Tran (Guardian of London) reports that Condoleezza Rice "said Iraq was worth the cost in US lives and dollars". Today, the US military announced: "Three Marines and one Sailor assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Thursday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Also today, the US military announced: "An attack against a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol killed a Soldier west of the Iraqi capital Dec. 22. The Soldiers came under sporadic small arms and indirect fire during a patrol. One Soldier was killed and another wounded." Five deaths and Condi says it's worth it. The total number of US troops killed in the Iraq war is 2965 and Condi says 'It's worth it.'

As for the financial costs, the
National Priorities Project has released their summary of the US federal government's budget for 2006 which notes ". . . the total cost of the Iraq War rose to nearly $380 billion. . . . Broken down another way, on average, the federal government spends about $11 million every hour on the Iraq War, $256 million each day, or around $8 billion per month."

Condi's statements about things going swimmingly come as the
BBC reports that at least seven Iraqi police officers were arrested by British troops in Basra due to suspicions of "corruption and leading a death squad in Basra."

While Condi proves she's useless in every position,
Bully Boy hopes and prays that Santa Clause will bring him a way out of the illegal war he started so that he can announce some new 'plan' in 2007. 75 US troops, who lost their lives this month so far, won't be able to wait for that news. It is the deadliest December for US troops since the start of the illegal war and December isn't over.

And in Iraq?


AP notes that two people died and four were wounded in a car bombing in Samarra while two police officers were wounded in a roadside bombing in Baghdad. Reuters identifies the two dead in Samarra from the car bomb as Ahmed al-Yaseen and his wife (name not given) and the four wounded were their children while also noting that two police officers were killed in Samarra from a roadside bomb and, in Suwayra, a bombing left five people wounded. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that an explosion in Baghad "targeting police patrol in Al Saadon street, central Baghdad" left eight citizens wounded.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Hiba Abdullah was shot dead while in her car in Baquba and her two-year-old son Mohammed Ahmed was injured.


Reuters notes that the corpse of a "hospital employee" who was kidnapped Thursday was discovered today in Kut. Christopher Torchia (AP) reports that 21 corpses were found in Baghdad, Baquba and Kut today.

CNN reports that iman Emad al-Shimari was kidnapped "at a Sunni mosque in northern Baghdad after Friday prayers."

In peace news,
Veterans For Peace announces that they, CODEPINK, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Working Assets were able to purchase 24,000 phone cards which "were distributed to 149 VA hospitals nationwide."

Also in peace news,
Guy Smallman (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reports that England's House of Lords has determined, three years after, that the police response to a March 2003 demonstartion against the war was "illegal and the protesters' human rights were violated. Lord Bingham has described the police's actions as 'wholly disproportionate' and said that the right to protest is 'an essential foundation of a democratic society'."

In let's-walk-the-vistors-through-real-slowly news (for visitors lost
yesterday), the US government wants to sideline Muqtada al-Sadr. Iraqis want foreign troops to stop occupying their country. This week US troops ceded control of Najaf to Iraqis. As the BBC reported yesterday, an attempted end run around al-Sadr took place yesterday when Shia leaders met with Ayatollah ali al-Sistani in Najaf. For visitors who got lost in the basic yesterday, note this from Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP): "In Najaf, Shiite delegates were meeting the country's top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, to ask for his blessing for the new coalition. The deal would excluse al-Sadr, but participants sought to reassure him that it would not sideline his influence". Today, Lebanon's The Daily Star reports that following the meeting with al-Sistani, the same group of leaders will meet with al-Sadr and discuss with him the possibility of a one month truce/cease fire. Already one part of the plan has been enacted, al-Sadr's followers announced yesterday they would return to their cabinet and parliamentary functions. If it's still too hard to put together, the AFP reports: "US officials have made it clear that they favour a realignment in Iraq's unity government, which would exclude Sadr and his Shiite militia". Despite that desire and the Pentagon report blaming al-Sadr, Nouri al-Maliki refuses (thus far) to heed the US call. And, as AFP reports, "this week Iraqi politiicans trampled down to the Shiite holy city of Najaf to talk to Sadr's allies and encourage him back into the coalition." To review, in an attempt to win the favor of al-Sistani and his followers, US forces handed control of Najaf over to Iraqi forces. The US government's hope was that al-Sadr would then be shut out in the talks that took place on Thursday, that a new coalition would be formed which would sideline him. That, however, did not happen. Another bet Condi made that someone else will have to pay off. For visitors still confused, Sam Dagher (CNN) reports: "'President Bush is being misled,' senior Shiite parliament member Ali al-Adeeb said in response to Bush's statement Wednesday that an emerging 'moderate coalition' would marginalize those who 'use violence to achieve political objectives'."

ricky clousing

juan gonzalez

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Still sick

I am sick as a dog. Still. Thank you to Toni, Sumner and C.I. who have been cleaning elves today and yesterday, stopping by and picking things up, cleaning rooms I don't even go into and making drink soup. I've not left the couch for most of the day. I slept on it last night. I had KPFA on, as usual, and woke up throughout the night from time to time. Usually because I was coughing so loudly, I woke myself up. This morning, I woke up during Democracy Now and did something I never do, flipped to the NPR station. I told Toni about that and she mentioned C.I.'s commentary which I haven't seen but, as summarized by Toni, I fully agree with. I am in no mood to support sexual predators.

Do not wring your hands over Mark Foley or sexual slavery or rape or any other topic if you're going to feature a man who was busted (twice!) for trying to have sexual encounters with underage women. I don't care that he was stung in a sting. I do not support that crap and he has no place on KPFA short of them doing a special on sexual predators.

From Toni's recap, I would agree 100% with C.I.'s comments but I'm only online now thanks to Sumner who's typing this up for me while I remain sprawled out on the couch. I just know, as bad as I felt, the sexual predator's voice was enough to make me leap off the couch, grab the remote and change the radio over to NPR (which was a wonderful sleeping pill).

My throat is killing me. Everytime I cough, it feels like I'm trying to spew my insides. I did throw up three times yesterday (and Toni anticipated that and parked a trash can by the couch for me).

I wanted to register my objection to the continued promotion of a sexual predator (without ever noting that he is one) and I wanted to get the snapshot up which Sumner's going to read to me as he copies and pastes.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, December 21, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, one US war resister prepares of his release while another prepares for his court-martial, 8 US troops are charged in slaughter, Bobby Gates meets with an arranged audience who tells him just what he wants to hear, and, as new attempts at a governing coalition are made in Iraq, no one's supposed to pay close attention.

Starting with news of peace and resistance, US war resister Ricky Clousing has spent three months in a military jail for his refusal to continue fighting in an illegal war. He is now being released and supporters are encouraged to be at the "Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at 10:15PM on Saturday, December 23rd, Concourse B, Baggage Claim 11" to welcome him home.

Clousing self-checked out of the US military in June of 2005 after serving in Iraq, on August 11, 2006, announced, during the Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle, that he would be turning himself in at Fort Lewis. David Swanson ( reported at the time, "Clousing said he did not apply for conscientious objector status because he is not certain he would oppose every possible war, such as one fought in self-defense. He said he has spent the past year trying to figure out how to turn himself in, that the military has refused to comment on his status and that he is now choosing to force them to deal with it. . . . Clousing said he served in Baghdad and Mosul as an interrogator, and that this meant he spoke to Iraqi civilians every day and learned what they thought about the war. Clousing said he witnessed the routine incarceration of civilians with no basis and no ability to contact their families. He spoke in particular of four brothers, the youngest aged 12, locked up for three to four weeks. Physical abuse of civilians and the killing of one Iraqi civilian were among the crimes Clousing said he witnessed."

Clousing did turn himself in at Fort Lewis but was told that he needed to turn himself at Fort Bragg which he did on August 18th. Bob Geary (Raleigh-Durham Independent Weekly) describes that episode: "The story of what it took for him to finally get arrested at Bragg is almost comical--his calls to Lewis were bucked to Bragg and vice versa; he was told his records were lost, but suddenly were found after he spoke out publicly against the war; and even then, he had to find his own way back to Bragg and knock on a bunch of different doors before a soldier finally did him the service of detaining him." September 1st brought the news that he would face a charge of desertion. On October 12th, Ricky Clousing was court-martialed in Fayetteville, North Carolina and pleaded guilty to being abesent without leave. Bob Geary (Raleigh-Durham Independent Weekly) reports that before Clousing leaves North Carolina Saturday, there is a scheduled rally in Fayetteville "midday Saturday to be greeted by human rights supporters at the Raleigh Friends Meeting House, 625 Tower St. (the street behind the Cameron Village Post Office). His reception is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., before he catches a flight from RDU back to his hometown of Seattle, Wash."

Turning to another war resister, Ehren Watada, something curious happens in the New York Times owned International Herald Tribune. Since it's going for an European audience (who doesn't think highly of the Times brand), it has to cover stories that the Times can't or won't. Which explains why the French version carries an AP story on Ehren Watada that the US version (or the Times for that matter) didn't. But who made the call that a hundred people attended Watada's speech? The speech, whose date and location (basic journalism) go unreported, is the same one he gave at Church of the Crossroads and Hawaii outlets that picked up the story illustrate it with a photo from that event. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, "Rod Ohira (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports that a crowd of 350 turned out to hear Watada speak at the Church of the Crossroads where he stated, 'The issue is about the war and people need to educate themselves about everything that's going on about the war. They need to take a position one way or another. If people agree with me or disagree with me, I really don't care. . . . What people need to do is take a stance. And if they truly believe there is something wrong with this war -- that it's immoral and illegal -- they should ask themselves what are they willing to sacrifice in order to stop this war?'"

It's interesting how 350 becomes "more than 100" when the AP article runs. 350 is more than 100, it's also more than 101 and 102 and 103 .
. .
Leila Fujimori (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) describes the crowd: "A highly sympathetic crowd of a few hundred people gave Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada standing ovations before, during and after a speech at the Church of the Crossroads in Moiliili." AP also manages to miss the standing ovations. Possibly it's difficult to count accurately and to hear from the mainland?

The AP does manage to note Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney, wants a larger courtroom this time. During the August Article 32 hearing, one of the biggest obstacles was the fact that there was not enough room for those attempting to attend to be seated. A smaller courtroom may be in keeping with the US military's desire to bury the court-martial (why they feel they need to bother is surprising -- independent media didn't cover the Article 32 in real time) but it's not in keeping with the supposed spirit of justice that's supposed to be on display. The AP article also quotes Ann Wright, who testified at the Article 32 hearing and is retired from the US State Department and US army, stating, "I really do appreciate when these men and women step up and say, 'I will risk going to jail because this war is wrong and I will not participate in it'."

Leila Fujimori (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) quotes two audience members (as well as what Joan, who was present, swears was a "plant"), Kristen Clyne who enjoyed the message that people make changes, not 'legislators':"This war wouldn't really be permitted without the support of the people, and it is really on the people to stop this war"; and Daniel Chong who stated, "It's about time somebody did something. . . . Some people would rather die than admit they're wrong, but he's willing to put his reputation on the line. That's true patriotism," Chung said.

Ehren Watada's pre-trial hearing is scheduled for January 4th and the court-martial is scheduled to begin February 5th. His Article 32 hearing lasted one day, Ricky Clousing's court-martial lasted one day. How long this one will last is a question that competes with "Will independent media cover it this time?"

While we await those answers, Watada and Clousing are part of a growing movement of resistance within the military that includes more than just them or more than just them plus one. Among the other war resisters who have gone public during the illegal war of choice are Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In addition, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month. Information on past and present war resistance can also be found in David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! which tells the story of war resistance during the Vietnam era and, in the new director's edition, also includes bonus material on Camilo Mejia's court-martial, interviews with Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda about today's war resistance, and more. The director's cut is availabe for $23.95 and the original version is currently available for $12.95.

Far from that reality, mainstream media outlets all over the for-show conference US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had, apparently forgetting how many have been scripted, where all the US soldiers speaking were in favor of more US troops being sent to Iraq. In a real world, in an unscripted event (a friend in the military states it wasn't "scripted," it was choreographed, FYI), might some of them have noted they want to go home? Not in the land of fantasy and propaganda.

Addressing the nonsense, Gabriele Zamparini (Op-EdNews) writes, "No soldier present said U.S. forces should be brought home, and none said current troop levels were adequate, as some commanders have argued. A young US soldier's mother recently wrote: 'Two weeks ago he called by satellite phone, awakening Amy and me in the dead of the night. Machine gun fire was all around him, the sound of war filling our ears and hearts with grief and fear of loss. (...) He says that this war cannot be won! He has no faith in the politicians who sent him there'." For context, earlier this year Leo Shane III (Stars & Stripes) reported on a poll of US military on the ground in Iraq which found "Seventy-two percent of troops on the ground in Iraq think U.S. military forces should get out of the country within a year, according to a Zogby poll released Tuesday."

So busy is the mainstream in selling another wave of Operation Happy Talk that few even make time to note the violence on the ground. (Apparently following the New York Times' lead of proclaiming "I Cover The Canapes.") Which may be why it's CODEPINK, and not the Times, noting US Senator Harry Reid's latest statement (Dec. 19th) re: the so-called "surge:"

Statement by Senator Harry Reid, December 19, 2006
Frankly, I don't believe that more troops is the answer for Iraq. It's a civil war and America should not be policing a Sunni-Shia conflict. In addition, we don't have the additional forces to put in there. We obviously want to support what commanders in the field say they need, but apparently even the Joint Chiefs do not support increased combat forces for Baghdad. My position on Iraq is simple:
1. I believe we should start redeploying troops in 4 to 6 months (The Levin-Reed Plan) and complete the withdrawal of combat forces by the first quarter of 2008. (As laid out by the Iraq Study Group)
2. The President must understand that there can only be a political solution in Iraq, and he must end our nation's open-ended military commitment to that country.
3. These priorities need to be coupled with a renewed diplomatic effort and regional strategy.I do not support an escalation of the conflict. I support finding a way to bring our troops home and would look at any plan that gave a roadmap to this goal.
It's been two weeks since the Iraq Study Group released its plan to change the course and bring our troops home. Since then, the President has been on a fact finding tour of his own administration -- apparently ignoring the facts presented by those in the military who know best. The President needs to put forth a plan as soon as possible, one that reflects the reality on the ground in Iraq and that withdraws our troops from the middle of this deadly civil war.


AFP reports three police officers and twelve police recruits are dead (with fifteen more wounded) after a man wearing an explosive vest detonated it outside a Baghdad police academy. Reuters notes a roadside bomb, in Baghdad, that wounded one person, a car bobm that killed two and wounded two more; while a roadside bomb in Mosul wounded two; a roadside bomb near Kirkuk that wounded two police officers; and a car bomb near Kirkuk that killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded four more.


Reuters notes (today) two shootings from yesterday -- in Kirkuk, a wife and husband were shot dead and in Tikrit Lt. Col. Ahmed Saleh was shot dead. AFP reports four were shot dead today "including a pharmacist and his brother killed when gunmen burst into their shop in the flashpoint province of Diyala, said a security source." And Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports: "Officials also announced the murder of Iraq's Olympic cycling coach, killed after gunmen kidnapped him from his home. Relatives identified the body of 48-year-old Mahoud Ahmed Fulayih on Monday, two days after he was abducted, said Hussein al-Amidi, the acting secretary general of Iraq's National Olympic Committee."


In the midst of their laughable coverage about the new 'crackdown' in Baghdad (the first came in June, beefed up in July, put on steroids in August and a failure to this day), CNN slips in that 38 corpses were discovered in the capital today.

In addition, the US military announced today: "One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Tuesday and one Marine assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died yesterday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." The US military also announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 20. The mounted combat patrol was escorting personnel to their forward operating base when a roadside bomb detonated. Three Soldiers were wounded and one Soldier killed in the blast." (The first release is a correction to this one -- which we've not quoted from in this entry. Two soldiers and one marine were announced deat today.) ICCC places the current total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war at 2958.

In legal news, Rick Rogers (San Diego Union-Tribune) reports, "The military announced charges of unpremeditated murder Thursday against four Camp Pendleton Marines in connection with what could be the worst U.S. war crime reported during the Iraq war. The defendants are rank-and-file members of the Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. They are accused of massacring 24 civilians Nov. 19, 2005, in the Iraqi town of Haditha." Noting the charges as "the biggest US criminal case to emerge from the war in Iraq in terms of Iraqis killed," the BBC reminds: "There was no full US investigation into what happened until three months later when video footage that was taken by a local human rights activist of the aftermath reached Time Magazine. Once their report showed flaws in the initial marine statement, an investigation began." CBS and AP note ". . . five Iraqi men were shot as they approached in a taxi and others -- including women and children -- died as Marines went house to house in the area, clearing homes with grenades and gunfire."

This is a section of Col. Stewart Navarre's statement to the press on the charges:

On the morning of 19 November 2005, a four vehicle convoy of Marines from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division was moving through Haditha when it was ambushed by insurgents employing an improvised explosive device and small arms fire.One Marine was killed and two were wounded by the explosion. Over the next several hours, 24 Iraqi men, women and children died in the vicinity of the IED explosion.
On 20 November 2005, 2nd Marine Division issued a press release stating that 15 Iraqi civilians were killed in an IED explosion, and Marines and Iraqi Army soldiers killed eight insurgents in a follow-on fire-fight.
We now know with certainty the press release was incorrect, and that none of the civilians were killed by the IED explosion.
As the result of a query by a Time magazine reporter in January 2006, there were several distinct but related investigations into the circumstances of the deaths of the 24 Iraqi civilians, and into how the chain of command reported and investigated those deaths.
[. . .]
It is important to note that the accused are presumed innocent. The charges and specifications are only accusations against the individuals.

Finally, Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports: "Radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has agreed to allow supporters to rejoin the Iraqi government after a three-week boycott, officials close to the militia leader said Thursday, as political rivals pushed to form a coalition without him." The boycott was made clear November 24th ahead of puppet Nouri al-Mailiki's meetup with the Bully Boy in Jordan. The stated intent was enough to lead the puppet to snub Bully Boy the first day and then rush through a brief meeting the following day. Abdul-Zahra notes: "Al-Sadr's boycott has undercut al-Maliki's government and prevented the passage of legislation. During that time, other Shiite factions have teamed with Kurds and one Sunni party to negotiate a new governing coalition that would cross sectarian lines." This comes as the BBC reports, "Iraq's Shia Muslim leaders have begun talks in the holy city of Najaf with the country's most prominent Shia cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani." Getting Ali al-Sistani into the process of a new coalition surely has nothing to do with the US military turning Najaf over to Iraq, right? We're not supposed to notice that. Play dumb on that (just like the mainstream press) and pretend not to ponder what a new governing coalition might mean for al-Maliki.

ricky clousingehren watada

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bad cold

I have a nasty cold. I know people think, "California, it doesn't really get winter." It's 'winter' like to me. It's been so cold at night lately. I've played Bree Daniels all day, saying, "I hope this isn't going to make my cold worse." (Bree Daniels is the character in Klute played by Jane Fonda.) It's been one bit of bad news and worse news delivered over the airwaves all day. And I was on the couch in and out throughout the day. I taped Bonnie and I'll write about it tomorrow (unless I still have this cold) when I can listen. I nodded off and woke up throughout. I remember waking up at one point thinking, "What is that?" It was a caller and Bonnie noted it sounded like an engine was reving up. David Ewing was the guest and the topic was Christmas in China but I seriously doubt they were discussing Frosty the Snowman; however, I must have had a dream about Frosty because that's what I'm remembering. Somewhere during that or before or after C.I. was at the door with some hot soup. I downed that and was back asleep before I knew it.

I'm alternating shallow coughs (like a cat with a fur ball) with these deep barks and my nose is a glue factory. Except for the soup, I haven't eaten today and Sumner woke me up saying he was on his way over and bringing dinner. I'm going to eat that and then go right back to sleep. When I woke up this morning, I was freezing and couldn't get warm no matter what I tried. I'm going to assume I have a fever now because I've taken off my robe and am burning up (in sweats and t-shirt, before anyone dubs me the nude blogger).

C.I.'s covering a lot in the snapshot and I'll assume what's not covered happened only in my mind. (Seriously, I was in and out of all day while listening to KPFA.) Before that, here's a taste of Tariq Ali's "The War is Lost" (CounterPunch):

Once a war goes badly wrong and its justifications are shown to be lies, to insist that a "democratic" Iraq is visible on the horizon and that "we must stay the course" becomes a total fantasy. What is to be done?
In the US a group of Foggy Bottom elders was wheeled in to prepare a report. This admitted what the whole world (Downing Street excepted) already knew: the occupation is a disaster and the situation gets more hellish every day. After US citizens voted accordingly in the mid-term elections, the White House sacrificed the Pentagon warlord, Donald Rumsfeld.
The warlord of Downing Street, however, is still at large, zombie-like in his denials that anything serious is wrong in Baghdad or Kabul. Everything, for him, can still be remedied by a dose of humanitarian medicine (a poison so powerful and audacious that no resistance is possible). His desperate attempts to play the statesman have made him a laughing stock in friendly Arab capitals and Baghdad's Green Zone. Iraq is the umbilical cord that ties him to his fate.

Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, December 20, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the New York Times which continues to act as though Colin Brown and Andy McSmith (Independent of London) broke no news last week, now plays "I don't see Chatham House" which may make it difficult for them to explain why Britain's Foreign Secretary is fessin' up to her own 'blot'; a large crowd turns out in Honolulu to hear US war resister Ehren Watada; and Bully Boy, who wants to go long with the lives of others, lets slip a bit of truth (naturally, the Times plays dumb),
In England,
a [PDF format] report continues to spark debate. Chatham House issued the six-page report yesterday (see yesterday's snapshot) and Tony Blair rushed to deny the conclusions but mainly revealed that six pages are about five too many for him to read and comprehend. Along with the prime minister, also issuing denials was the country's Foreign Secretary who termed the report "utterly ridiculous." "Utterly ridiculous" describes Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, and her performance on BBC Radio 4 yesterday where she attempted to rewrite history. After confessing that the (false) claim that Iraq could attack England with WMDs within 45 minutes, Beckett attempted to make light of it: "That was a statement that was made once and it was thought to be of such little relevance". John Humphrys (host of the BBC program Today) begged to differ and noted that the Blair government never corrected the public record, never came out and stated, "Ooopsy! That was a big fat lie." Beckett snarled back, "Oh, come on -- nobody that it was revelant. Nobody thought it was a big sweeping statement."
This is London adds the perspective Beckett attempts to strip from the public record -- Tony Blair made that claim in the 2002 while advocating war, it "was at the heart of the Downing Street dossier issued in September 2002 where Blair wrote: "The document discloses that his military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them," Blair went on to push the false assertion four times more in the dossier and once in a public speech to the House of Commons, and the lie was at the root of the 2003 inquiry into whether or not intel had been 'sexed up' -- as the BBC reported it had -- during which time Beckett and Blair continued to sit on the truth and David Kelly died. Now Beckett wants to say, "Oh, come on"?
BBC reports that the Tory party are calling it "appalling" and noting the false claim did not belong "in a government dossier". William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, states, "If it is true that the 45-minute claim had been discounted before the invasion, it is appalling that there seems to have been no effort or coordination between ministers to put the record straight. This is yet another reason to dismantle Tony Blair's sofa policy-making and restore Cabinet government." The BBC notes what the New York Times can't or won't, "The comments come after it was revealed last week that former UK diplomat Carne Ross had told the 2004 Butler review into Iraq intelligence that 'at no time did HMG (Her Majesty's Government) assess that Iraq's WMD (weapons of mass destruction) posed a threat to the UK or its interests'. He also claimed that there was no evidence of 'significant holdings' of chemical or biological weapons in the possession of Saddam prior to the invasion. "
While the Chatham House report goes largely ignored by the US press,
Jackie Ashley (Guardian of London) observes, "If it wasn't so serious it would be hilariously funny. 'Mr Tony', as he now apparently likes to be called, has been explaining his theory of leadership: 'The art of leadership is learning to take decisions.' So far, so good. And, he goes on, 'sometimes you are right, sometimes you are wrong. Some of the decisions are very difficult and someone always gets angry.' Well, Mr Tony, certainly lots of people have got angry about the Iraq war, which an ever-growing number of people believe was a wrong decision. Look at the Baker-Hamilton commission in the United States, which gave a devastating critique of the policy, warned of the situation in Iraq deteriorating and of the threat of regional conflagration. Look at yesterday's report from the respected thinktank, Chatham House, which described the war as 'a terrible mistake' which has damaged Britain's global influence. Listen to all those Labour MPs who are saying publicly (a little) and privately (a lot) that the decision to follow George Bush into war with Iraq was a terrible error. Yet Mr Tony still seems to think, as indeed he has implied before, that it doesn't really matter whether the decision was right or wrong - what was important was that he made a decision. It is a truly bizarre theory of government, with extremely frightening consequences."
Mr. Tony? Sounds like he's getting ready to do a rinse and set. Tareq al-Hashemi thinks another kind of washing has gone on. The
BBC reports that al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's two vice presidents, spoke to the Council of Relations in NYC and, noting that Mr. Tony had been favorable to the ide of a withdrawal timetable for foreign troops, went on to conclude that possibly Mr. Tony had been "brainwashed" by the Bully Boy since he changed his mind on the subject: "It is quite unfortunate that your president made a sort of blackmail out of Mr Blair."
Brainwashed, blackmailed or strong armed, it's exactly the sort of cow-towing, lackey decision making that the Chatham Report noted and stated needed to stop. In the United States, desperate for something, anything!, to fuel a new wave of Operation Happy Talk, the US government declares (and
CNN runs with) that they have captured yet another al Qaeda leader in Iraq! Six days ago is whispered in sotto voice. al Qaeda was not in Iraq prior to the illegal war and, as the US Pentagon underscored yesterday, it's not the force the hyped up talk repeatedly makes it out to be (the Pentagon found militias to be the greater threat to national security in Iraq). But if the US administration pushes it hard enough, maybe the wave of Operation Happy Talk will drown out reality.
Or at least allow people not to note that the same Bully Boy who used Daddy's connections to avoid serving in Vietnam (not due to any opposition to the war, just cowardice of putting his own ass on the line) now tests the waters for sending more US troops to die in Iraq. Speaking to the press today, Bully Boy declared, "
They think they can. They think it's just a matter of time before America grows weary and leaves, abandons the people of Iraq, for example. And that's not going to happen." Once again, he demonstrates how he can sleep easy even after all the blood on his hands -- he just doesn't give a damn. Which allows him to lie with claims such as "I also don't believe most Americans want us just to get out now." As polls have repeatedly demonstrated, Americans and Iraqis favor, in strong majorities, US forces doing just that.
AP reports that John Abizaid ("commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East") has submitted his plans to retire. That's surprising only to those who missed Thom Shanker (New York Times) report today that Abizaid "argues that foreign troops are a toxin bound to be rejected by Iraqis, and that expanding the number of American troops merely puts off the day when Iraqis are forced to take responsibility for their own security." That opinion is no longer in favor with the US administration (or War Hawks in the press like Gordo) so it's no surprise that Abizaid is stepping down.
Robert Gates, the newly installed US Secretary of Defense is all for more US troops being sent to Iraq.
CBS and AP report that Gates visited the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad where he "discussed a possible infusion of more U.S. troops into Iraq with American commanders on Wednesday but said no decisions have been made. On just his third day in his post, Gates journeyed to Iraq armed with a mandate from President Bush to help forge a new Iraq war strategy." There are no new strategies, just desperation tactics. As Peter Baker (Washington Post) reported today, the Bully Boy has admitted that the US is "not winning" which, Baker observed, "was a striking reversal for a president who, days before the November elections declared, 'Absolutely, we're winning'."
Though some Democrats in the Senate may scratch their heads and wonder what happened to Bobby Gates, the reality is that his lackey qualities were well known long before they confirmed him. As
Robert Parry (Consortium News) reports, the thinking was "that Gates was a closet dove who would help guide the United States out of George W. Bush's mess in Iraq. The thinking was that Gates, a former member of the Iraq Study Group, would represent the views of James Baker and other 'realitists' from George H.W. Bush's administration. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee praised Gates for his 'candor' when he acknowledged the obvious, that the war in Iraq wasn't being won. Since the Gates confirmation vote on Dec. 6, however, Bush and Gates have signaled that they have no intention of extricating the U.S. military from the Iraq quagmire. They still insist on nothing short of 'victory' or 'success,' no matter how unlikely those ends and no matter how much blood must be spilled over the next two years to avert defeat." As Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) noted yesterday, there's one conclusion left out of Parry's report -- the statement "I was right." Parry was right and had Senate Dems been more interested in exploring the record and less in a hurry to get rid of Donald the Rumsfled (who was out the door regardless), as Rebecca pointed out, "we wouldn't have the new donald rumsfeld. that's all gates is. actually, he's rumsfeld without 4 years of baggage, 4 years of known lies. he's rumsfeld with a honeymoon period from the press that will probably extend all the way through 2008."
Instead of recognizing
the peace mandate of the November elections, as CBS and the AP report, the Pentagon is asking for an additional 99.7 billion for the wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) which "would boost this year's budget for the wars to about $170 billion."
More money and more lives down the drain in an illegal war of choice. In Iraq today . . .
Outside of Baghdad,
Reuters notes two dead and three wounded in Baiji from a roadside bomb. Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports "a massive sucide car bomb" this morning in Baghdad "near the entrance to Baghdad University" which claimed eleven lives (plus the driver of the car) "including six Iraqi police" and left "at least two dozen" injured. Reuters also notes three other car bombs in Baghdad: four dead and eight wounded from one "in the parking lot of an Interior Ministry office," two wounded from one in the Bayaa disctrict and two wounded from one in the Camp Sara district.
Molly Hennesy-Fiske (LA Times) reports that three people were shot dead and at least seven more wounded at the Bab Al Muadhem bus terminal in Baghdad, that Mahmoud Mohammed Rahseed was shot dead in the Baghdad neighborhood "where he taught middle school," that Ali Arnoosi ("deputy dean of the college of law at the University of Baghdad") and law professor Mohammed Hamdani were also shot dead in Baghdad continuing the targeting of educators in Iraq. This comes at a time when, Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has made attendence mandatory for both professors and students and failure to comply will lead to "dismissal or expulsion" so "the professors have begun hiding their education by donning ratty clothes, pulling on traditional Arab head scarves and driving to campus in beat-up cars." Like the Bully Boy, the puppet's not concerned with safety just with the appearances.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "A military official in the 5th division of the Iraqi army said that a soldier was killed and 3 others were wounded when a group of more than 30 insurgents attacked early morning today a military checkpoint in Abo Al Nakhal district in Khalis city north of Baqouba city. The source confirmed that 5 insurgents were killed." and "A governmental source in Baladrooz town east of Baqouba city (60 kms north of Baghdad) said that 2 civilians were killed and 8 were injured when an insurgents group from Dainiya neighborhood targeted civilians in Shakori village in the same town early morning today."
Reuters notes that eleven corpses were discovered in Mosul and two in Mahmudiya while 76 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Repeating, 76.
In addition, the
US military announced today: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in a southern neighborhood of the Iraqi capital Dec. 20. The combat patrol was conducting a route clearance mission in order to free the roads of any possible dangers. As they conducted their mission, a roadside bomb exploded near one of their vehicles, killing one and wounding two other Soldiers." The US military also announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 20. The dismounted combat patrol was on the way to investigate an explosion that occurred in the area when a roadside bomb detonated. As a result of the explosion, four Soldiers were wounded and one Soldier was killed."
Turning to peace news, in June of this year,
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Yesterday, in Honolulu, he spoke out again. Rod Ohira (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports that a crowd of 350 turned out to hear Watada speak at the Church of the Crossroads where he stated, "The issue is about the war and people need to educate themselves about everything that's going on about the war. They need to take a position one way or another. If people agree with me or disagree with me, I really don't care. . . . What people need to do is take a stance. And if they truly believe there is something wrong with this war -- that it's immoral and illegal -- they should ask themselves what are they willing to sacrifice in order to stop this war?"
Watada faces a pre-trial hearing in January and then a court-martial in February. Though the US Congress seems unable or unwilling to excercise their oversight and have largely rebuffed his mother, Carolyn Ho, and her efforts, the reality is that he is one person in a growing movement of resistance within the military that includes Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Those are some of the war resisters who have gone public while currently there are thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.

iraqehren watada

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

David Rovics

Thank you to Anita who pointed out in an e-mail that I forgot to mention that a review I did posted Saturday -- "Kat's Korner: David Rovic's Halliburton Boardroom Massacre." David Rovics' offers free downloads at his website so if you do not know the name, please visit his website. I really love this CD.

What's his voice like, Anita wondered? (Which tells me she didn't use the link to visit his site.) I don't know. It's got a snap to it. How good's your memory? If it's really good and you didn't grow up getting sodas, think about that first time you got a soda and the way it tasted.

It's a cool voice with a snap to it. It reminds me of when we'd go out to eat and I could talk my mother into letting me have a cola. (My brothers and sisters? Hey, you were on your own when it came to twisting Mom's arm.) It's got that warm taste that's thick and the the snap takes you by surprise.

It's a nice voice and he can sing. More importantly, he can write songs. So please make a point to check out the album. It makes my year's best list that I'll be posting shortly.

By the way, as soon as it went up (that's C.I.'s CD in the scan), Maggie called to say, "Oh I did borrow that CD. It's in my car stereo." She had borrowed it while I was in Ireland and didn't remember that she had it even though I told her she did. She looked in her Felix the Cat like purse and around her stereo at home. It was in her car stereo the whole time. She's listened to it over and over since October. So is you're worried about whether it will hold up to repeat listens, yes, it does. Maggie's proof.

That's it for me tonight. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; an international policy think tank in London delivers a devestating evaluation on the failures of Tony Blair's leadership; Ehren Watada's mother speaks out on WBAI's Law and Disorder to raise awareness of her son and his upcoming court-martial scheduled to begin in February; bank robbers in Baghdad make off with the equivalen of nearly a million dollars; and Harry Reid and his favored 'surge' are rightly called out.

Starting in England where Tony Blair is coming under renewed criticism.
Chatham House is a London based think tank that was created in 1920 which has just released a [PDF format] report grading the British prime minister's performance. Sophie Walker (Reuters) reports that Britian's Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, has termed the report "ridiculously wrong." Which indicates how correct it is. Victor Bulmer-Thomas ("OBE . . . Director at Chatham House since April 2001") is the author of the report.

Tracing the emergence of Blair as Poodle to Bully Boy,
the report examines the post 9-11 period and notes that the prisoners held in the gulag of Guantanamo Bay "barely raised an eyebrow in British government circles" nor did Bully Boy's State of the Union address (January 2002) prompt a reaction from Blair despite Bully Boy labeled Iraq, Iran and North Korea as part of the so-called 'axis of evil' when "the United Kingdom had diplomatic relations with the last two and there was no link between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the atrocities of 9/11."

report notes that "by mid-2002 Tony Blair had concluded that President Bush was determined to invade Iraq and that Britain needed to be a partner in this excercise. The British role was therefore to provide diplomatic cover and to enrol allies in Europe and elsewhere as far as possible. This was without a shadow of doubt the defining moment of Blair's foreign policy -- indeed the defining moment of his whole premiership. It will shape his legacy -- for better or for worse -- for many years to come."

report further notes: "The problem Blair faced was not how to maintain European unity in the face of a threatened US pre-emptive war. . . . . Instead, the problem was how to obtain United Nations approval for a war of choice when NATO intervention was ruled out by French and German opposition. A case for human intervention could have been made, but that was unlikely to command support in the UN Security Council and could have provked a Russian or even Chinese veto. Instead, in close cooperation with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, the decision was made to emphasize the need to eliminate Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction."

report offers that, "in hindsight," the illegal war "was a terrible mistake" and that "the jury is still out" whether or not that call could have been made in real time because that depends upon how much Tony Blair "knew the claims about WMD were overblown or even fabricated." But diplomatic means were ignored ("Hans Blix was calling for more time for the UN weapons inspectors") and there was no threat to England ("even if Saddam Hussein had WMD, they were not directed at the United Kingdom"). Reviewing other areas, the Middle East in general and Afghanistan, Chatam House's report concludes that there has been no 'reward' to England for Blair's decision to throw his lot in with the Bully Boy: "The root failure, however, has been the inability to influence the Bush administration in any significant way despite the sacrifice -- military, political and financial - the the United Kingdom has made. . . . Tony Blair has learnt the hard way that loyalty in international politics counts for very little."

BBC reports that Tony Blair has rejected the conclusions of the report; however, his comments demonstrate that he's not read it (it's only six pages) -- Blair says that the US needs to be a partner and the report doesn't question that. The report does note the importance of the European Union, the need to respect allies and the fact that Iraq ("disaster") resulted, for the British, from a failure to question (publicly) baseless lcimas and that working with the US did not require (and the report concludes will not in the future) "unconditional support for US initiatives." Blair, who will be out of office shortly, makes some self-serving claims about the Middle East and the report's already addressed that.

The report's release comes four days after
Colin Brown and Andy McSmith (Independent of London) broke the news on the recently disclosed 2004 testimony of Carne Ross to the Butler Inquiry which stated that Hussein being "effectively contained" was a common view "among British officials" all the way up to the illegal war and that an invasion would result in "chaos" for Iraq (". . . Iraq would collapse into chaos") and that there was no threat "of CW [chemical warfare], BW [biological warfare] or nuclear material". All was known and all was ignored by Tony Blair who wanted the same illegal war of choice that the Bully Boy did.

Colin Brown and Andy McSmith published their report of the revelations on December 15th. To date, the New York Times has refused to cover or note them -- even at their website by posting either the AP or Reuters article. The blackout on the news is so huge that even in Sabrina Tavernise's lengthy open mouthed kiss to Tony Blair (ran in Monday's paper) there was no time to note Carne Ross' previously classified testimony.

Tavernise 'report' only grows more laughable today as
BBC News' Andrew North weighs in on the photo-op and notes that both Blair and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki "looked like they were on auto-pilot, saying much of the same things they've said before."
North observes: "But as on previous trips, Mr Blair did not really visit Baghdad. He stopped off for three hours on another planet called the Green Zone, the the sprawling fortress housing the US and British embassies and most Iraqi government ministries. Even in this maze of razor wire and concrete-walled compounds, it is not totally safe. Mortars often rain down. Mr Maliki's residence is ringed by 20ft-high blast barriers and gun towers. Mr Blair arrived with an impressive army of gun-toting bodyguards in armoured vehicles bristling with high-tech electronic equipment. But life in the Green Zone bears no relation to the unpredictable chaos of Baghdad beyond - the Red Zone as it is known by Green Zone residents."

Tavernise's problematic 'report' utilized White House talking points ("the way forward in Iraq") as though they were her own, failed to note Sunday's mass kidnapping utilized 'security vehicles' that were also used by Iraq's security forces, and somehow failed to report that on Sunday (the day she was 'reporting' on), the US military had announced the death of three US soldiers. But didn't she manage to quote Tony Blair. Good stenography. Lousy reporting.

In the United States, the Pentagon releases its congressionally mandated accounting.
CNN reports the Pentagon's summary concludes that militas are a greater threat in Iraq than is the mythical al Qaeda. Interviewed yesterday by Nora Barrows-Friedman on KPFA's Flashpoints, journalist Robert Fisk made sport of the inflated claims of an al Qaeda led resistance within Iraq. [Rebecca discusses the appearance here.] However, for the Pentagon, this is a belated but huge step in truth telling. Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that the Pentagon announced "that the violence in Iraq soared this fall to its highest level on record" and that this occurs "despite increased troop levels -- including a higher-than-anticipated U.S. force level of 140,000 troops".

The troop increase resulted from the so-called 'crackdown' on Baghdad that began in June and never ended -- nor did it ever suceed in lowering the violence -- a fact proven by the Pentagon's own report. However, despite this reality,
US Senator Harry Reid, who is expected to become the Senate Majority Leader next month, has given his okay for a 'surge' in troop level with the laughable qualifier that it was only "two or three months." Those qualifiers fly out the window very quickly -- the raised level of troops for the 'crackdown' were also supposed to be short-term.

Military Families Speak Out had issued their [PDF format] statement noting that they represent "over 3,100 military families" and they "have grave concerns" over Reid's statement. The organization "is calling on Congress to stop focusing on what others may or may not do, and take action itself to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The U.S. Congress has the power of the purse, and can cut off funding for the war. MSFO understands that there is enough money currently appropriated in the Defense Department's budget to bring all U.S. troops home quickly and safely -- funding the equipment, armor, supplies, food and other items they will need during their exit."

The alternative will likely be the Iraq-ization of Iraq that will follow the same patterns of the Vietnamization of Vietnam as
outlined by John Graham (Common Dreams). But the US Congress shows little desire to utilize their power of the purse and deny funding for the illegal war. [The White House budget director, Rob Portman, announced today that the finanical costs on the part of the US for the illegal war will be greater than $110 billion.]
CODEPINK and Gold Star Families for Peace are among the groups calling for actions in DC next month, January 27th through 29th, to demand the new Congress live up to the peace mandate they were voted in on.

Among the violence today in Iraq was an armed heist.
CNN reports that approximately 20 men, utilizing four vehicles, made off with the US equivalent of nearly one million dollars while some "were dressed in camouflage uniforms similar to Iraqi Security Forces' uniforms". Christopher Torchia (AP) reports that they "drove up to the Zuwiyah Bank i Baghdad's Karradah neighborhood and fired automatic weapons in the air, then handcuffed guards and robbed accountants" (he also notes that 26 of the people abducted in the mass kidnapping at the Iraqi Red Crescent's Baghdad offices on Sunday have been released -- 16 are still unknown and the total number of those kidnapped Sunday is 42.)


Reuters report that a roadside bomb in Kirkuk left seven police officers wounded while, in Baghdad, a car bomb took one life and left three wounded. CBS and AP report at bombing "at a medical facility flying a Red Crescent flag" in Baghdad. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a mortar attack "west of baqouba" that killed 3 children and left eight more injured. Christopher Torchia (AP) notes two dead in Baghdad and seven wounded from a mortar attack while two died from a roadside bomb.


Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that 2 police officers were shot dead in Baquba. Christopher Torchia (AP) notes that a college sudent was shot dead in Mosul.


Reuters reports that four corpses were discovered in Mosul, 12 corpses were discovered in Baquba. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that 53 corpses were discovered in Baghdad (and offers a very thorough breakdown of who was found where within the capital), that Mitashar al Sudami's corpse was also discovered after the actor was "kidnapped yesterday" and that eight corpses were discovered in al Tahreer.

As the violence and chaos continues, 'normal' is a dream.
Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) examine the issue of children attending school in a war zone and find that "attendance rates for the new school year, which started Sep. 20, are at an all-time low" -- while approximately 75% of Iraqi children were attending schools in 2005, the figure has now dropped to 30 percent. Along with falling attendance is falling literacy rates (and Iraq had one of the highest rates of literacy in the Middle East prior to the illegal war). Jamail and al-Fadhily note Um Suthir who explains that her children are in danger just traveling to school and another Iraqi who explains, "We are now living in a factory building, and there is no school near our shelter. I've had to ask for my oldest boy to help cover expenses by working as a cleaner at a mechanic's shop nearby."

No 'justice,' no 'liberation,' no safety and even the area Iraqi's long taken pride in (their high levels of literacy) are now falling as the illegal war drags on. In peace news, Carolyn Ho, mother of
Ehren Watada, was interviewed by Dalia Hashad, Michael Smith, and Michael Ratner on WBAI's Law and Disorder Monday. Ehren Watada is the first US officer to refuse publicly to deploy to Iraq. Ho spoke of being "stunned" on January 1, 2006, when her son told her of his decision. Dalia Hashad asked, "You were upset with your son because he didn't want to go to war?" Ho replied, "Well, you know, all I could think of was I just did not want him to be vilified in the press. All I could see was this was my son trying to face the military-industrial complex. It was just totally overwhelming and I just was not prepared for it. It was days that I had to think through this. It was just feelings of grief, of anger that he was doing this to himself."

Ho has spoken with member of Congress and hasn't been overwhelmed by their response. She noted, "I feel that my son's case is not seperate and apart from the legislative branch." And though Congress and the military wishes to act as though it's as cut and dry as her son just refusing an order, Ho feels "this government is going to have to face reality."

Ehren Watada knows the war is illegal and the resaon for the refusal to deploy is not a secondary issue but the primary one in his case -- whether the military or the US Congress wants to admit it. Michael Ratner revealed that Eric Seitz' attorney has spoken with him about the prospect of Ratner testifying at Watada's February court-martial.

Dalia Hashad raised the issue of Watada's role in "the larger anti-war movement" and Ho offered, "I think that he holds the banner as do all the other refusenics. I think that people sometimes say that he is a part of it and not the other way around but I think it needs to be perceived in the broader context and that with his victory, I believe truly that it will be a victory for the people and for the movement because the movement progresses with each case and each victory is something that brings us further along the line. I think that he does not operate in a vacuum, that he has been inspired by others that went before him and he will be an inspiration for other to follow."

Watada is a part of a resistance movement within the military that includes Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Those are some of the war resisters who have gone public and over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.

Ehren Watada spoke with Robert Shikina (Honolulu Star -Bulletin whose Gregg Kakesako is among the reporters subpeoned by the prosecution to testify in the February court-martial).
"It'll all be over pretty soon. In one way or another, it'll all be over,"
Watada told Shikina. "Now at least I know I have a date and it's set. And I know after that point, one way or another, it's going to end." Though the court-martial is due to begin in February, pre-trial motions start January 4th. Watada and Ann Wright (retired US army colonel, retired US State Department official) will speak at 7:00 p.. tonight at the Church of the Crossroads, 1212 University Ave, in Honolulu.

Meanwhile, in England, new developments emerge in the inquiry into the 2003 death of a British soldier. Steve Roberts died March 24, 2003 in Iraq.
Michael Evans (Times of London) reports that at an inquest into Roberts' death (classified under the euphimism "friendly fire"), Osfordshire's assistant deputy coroner, Andrew Walker, testified, "To send soldiers into a combat zone without the appropriate basic equipment is, in my view, unforgiveable and inexcuseable and represents a breach of trust that the soldiers have in those in government." Last week, as reported by Yorkshire Post Today, the inquest heard a tape recording that Steve Roberts had intended to be a letter to his wife, Samantha Roberts, where he noted, "Kit we're being told we are going to get, we're not. It's disheartening because we know we're going to have to go to war without the correct equipment." Samantha Roberts' reaction to the latest development in her husband's inquest, "The coroner found failing in training and command in the run-up to and after the shooting, but the single most important factor was the lack of enhanced body armour. If Steve had had that he would be with us today."

Returning to the issue of the US Congress funding the war,
Cindy Sheehan (writing at BuzzFlash) wonders where Democratic Congress members such as Sherrod Brown believe that the monies for the domestic programs they're advocating will come from if the illegal war continues to be funded? Noting that, the Harry Reid's 'surge' and more, Alexander Cockburn (CounterPunch) analyzes the work of the New York Times war pornographer Michael Gordon: "Indeed no reporter has played a more assiduous role in fostering this 'surge' option than Gordon, a man who somehow skipped free of the misreporting charges that finally caught up with his former colleague Judith miller, even though he shared a byline with Miller in the very worst report, the claim that aluminum tubes were hard evidence of Saddam's WMD program. In the past months, in the Times and on CNN Gordon has been laying down a propaganda barrage against speedy withdrawal and for a hike in US troop numbers in Iraq. When [John] Murtha ran for the House majority leadership position, the New York Times front-paged two stories by Gordon attacking Murtha's advocacy of rapid withdrawal, and promoting a troop increase."

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